J.S. Ondara “Tales of America” (Verve, 2019)

The grand but elusive idea of the ‘American Dream’ is one of the USA’s gifts to the world. J.S. Ondara is, perhaps, the very personification of this ideal but his darkly poetic lyrics and tender confessionals expose the doubts, flaws and difficulties in chasing the myth, just like the pain to be found in the … Continue reading “J.S. Ondara “Tales of America” (Verve, 2019)”

AmericanaFest UK 2019 Conference Showcase preview – part two

The AMAUK conference is now into its fourth year and one of the highlights is the two nights of showcases which take place before the awards ceremony featuring the best of americana talent, both homegrown and from around the world. At five venues across Hackney, all within walking distance and for the price of one … Continue reading “AmericanaFest UK 2019 Conference Showcase preview – part two”

The Handsome Family, Nell’s Jazz and Blues, London, 22nd October 2018

The last time the Handsome Family visited these shores they played the Grade II listed Hackney Round Chapel, an appropriate venue for their 20 year celebration of the ‘Through The Trees’ album. Tonight’s end-of-tour performance is in the more intimate surrounds of Nell’s Jazz and Blues club and there are no restrictions placed on what … Continue reading “The Handsome Family, Nell’s Jazz and Blues, London, 22nd October 2018”

Tony Rose “Medicine Tunes” (Cannery Row Records 2018)

Tony Rose is from Glasgow and this is his first solo record. He has previously recorded as a member of Two Dollar Bash and has a career extending beyond Scotland, playing across Europe, jamming and swapping songs from Prague to Berlin and Amsterdam and all across Canada and the USA, promoting this important bluegrass related … Continue reading “Tony Rose “Medicine Tunes” (Cannery Row Records 2018)”

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard “Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-69” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)

Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard are seen as the pioneering women of bluegrass music.  ‘Sing Me Back: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969’ is a raw, unproduced album that highlights the duo’s quality, recorded in Gerrard’s kitchen on a reel-to-reel recorder – their authentic talent does shine through. Some of the songs will be familiar when listening to … Continue reading “Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard “Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-69” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)”

Kashena Sampson “Wild Heart” (New Moon Records, 2018)

There was a time in the not so distant past when you could hear how much was spent on a record. But it’s almost impossible to make that sort of distinction today with production values available to those with the most meagre of budgets. And if anything, more acts nowadays are looking to reproduce a … Continue reading “Kashena Sampson “Wild Heart” (New Moon Records, 2018)”

Tom Paxton and The Don Juans, The Stables, Wavendon 15th April 2018

Tom Paxton turned eighty last October, and he has toured the UK for more than fifty of those years. This latest tour see’s him supported by The DonJuans (Don Henry and Jon Vezner) who both warm up the show with a few songs of their own and then play along with Tom throughout two excellent sets, … Continue reading “Tom Paxton and The Don Juans, The Stables, Wavendon 15th April 2018”

All The Luck In The World “A Blind Arcade” (Independent 2018)

All The Luck in the World are three young Irish songwriters from County Wicklow who gained a degree of attention when a home recorded song of theirs titled ‘Never’ gained a large following on YouTube back in 2012, and subsequently got picked up by the travel comparison website, Trivago – further enhancing their exposure.

Billy Stoner “Billy Stoner” (Team Love Records, 2017)

Billy Stoner’s unlucky number has to be 37. That’s because it’s taken this record 37 years to see the light of day, and during that time Stoner also spent 37 months in prison – the latter a pivotal time that sabotaged what was shaping up to be a promising musical career. In at the ground … Continue reading “Billy Stoner “Billy Stoner” (Team Love Records, 2017)”

Elliott Brood “Ghost Gardens” (Paper Bag Records, 2017)

Elliott Brood are a three piece band – musicians Mark Sasso, Casey Laforet and Stephen Pitkin – who hail from Ontario, Canada and “Ghost Gardens” is their sixth full length studio album and the first since 2014’s “Work And Love”. Apparently this album came about with the rediscovery of a misplaced hard drive that held a … Continue reading “Elliott Brood “Ghost Gardens” (Paper Bag Records, 2017)”